Muni golf: Why some courses fail, why some succeed and where the industry is going (

To spend an hour listening to Peter Hill explain the history of North American golf course construction, primarily public-access golf, is like getting Warren Buffett to drop by your college business class for a lecture on investing.

There little emotion in Hill’s voice as he thoroughly dissects how and why municipal golf courses have been built, where they’ve been built, why many were set up for failure, and what obstacles they need to overcome in order to become successful.

Hill loves golf, for certain, but for more than three decades he managed these facilities — some good, some bad, some in urban areas, some in the suburbs — in a cunningly calculated fashion. While others get warm and fuzzy discussing the sentimental value of their local muni, Hill came at these sites with a checklist to mark — tee sheet percentages, payroll totals, pace-of-play averages, utility expenses, etc.

Get the numbers to work, and the course will be a success. Allow too many columns to slip into the red and suddenly there’s a permanent closed sign on the clubhouse door.

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